Ministry of Commerce has summoned Provincial Food Secretaries and representatives of Army and Navy on Wednesday to convince them to pay Rs 3.886 billion longstanding imported wheat storage charges to Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), well informed sources toldBusiness Recorder.
“We will ask the provincial governments and organisations concerned to pay wheat storage charges immediately otherwise the federal government adjuster will deduct the amount from their shares,” the sources added.
The sources said Economic Co-ordination Committee of the Cabinet on September 15, 2009 had directed the TCP to take up wheat storage charge issue with the provincial governments, Army and Navy.
In pursuance of the ECC decision, the TCP billed the provincial governments of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Sindh, Gilgit-Baltistan and AJ&K, besides other agencies namely USC, Pak Army and Pak Navy for recovery of storage charges amounting to a total of Rs 3.886 billion.
The sources said despite vigorously pursuing almost all the provincial governments and other organisations, their dues remain pending since 2009. On the request of the TCP for recovery of storage charges at source from the provincial governments and other organisations, Ministry of Commerce took up the matter with the Finance Division, which intimated that it deals only with provinces and AJK and thus the matter of outstanding amount of recovery had been taken up with the provinces concerned, the sources added.
As regards recovery from other government agencies, Finance Division advised Ministry of Commerce to take up the case directly with those entities. Accordingly, Ministry of Commerce took up the matter with Pak Army, Pak Navy and USC. Having failed in its efforts to recover the outstanding storage charges of wheat, the TCP requested that the issue may be taken up in the ECC.
Consequently, the Ministry of Commerce requested the ECC for issuance of necessary direction to the Finance Division to recover the storage charges at source from the provincial governments and other organisations and remit the same to TCP, in order to ensure implementation of its earlier decision of 2009, the sources maintained.
When this issue was placed before the ECC, in its last meeting, some of the members suggested that the matter of storage charges of the TCP may be referred to the government adjuster in the Finance Division for recovery at-source after necessary reconciliation. A question was raised about the competence and powers of Government Adjuster in the event of disputed claims.
The ECC was further informed that when the provinces lifted the stocks of imported wheat some three-four years back, question of storage charges was not raised, it appears to be an after-thought on the part of the TCP. It was suggested that the provinces and other government entities should hold a meeting with the TCP to arrive at an amicable solution to the issue and thereafter, if required, the matter of storage charges of TCP may be referred to the government adjuster.
It is unclear whether the officials of Commerce Ministry will be able to convince provinces, Army and Navy for any amicable solution to the longstanding issue as in the past their efforts remained unsuccessful. The question of referring the matter to the government adjuster will be decided in the light of outcome of the meeting.